—Spiritual Food For Thought—
Maria Esperanza, 1928 – 2004
THIS past year, when I would pray in the Spirit, a word would often and suddenly rise to my lips: "esperanza." I just learned that this is a Hispanic word meaning "hope."
Two years ago, I met with author Michael Brown (who many of you know is the driving force behind the Catholic website SpiritDaily.) Our families shared a meal together, and afterward, Michael and I talked about many things. When we were about to leave, he left the room and grabbed a couple of books. One of them was entitled, The Bridge to Heaven. It is a compilation of interviews Michael carried out with the late Venezuelan mystic, Maria Esperanza. She has been described as the female version of Padre Pio whom she in fact met several times in her life. He appeared to her the day he died (as he sometimes would to many souls), and said, "It’s your turn now." Remarkable mystical phenomenon surrounded her life, including the privilege of receiving apparitions from Jesus, as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints. And not only her; many who came to her village of Betania also saw the Virgin, in apparitions which have received a strong approval from the local bishop.
On September 11th last week, I suddenly felt compelled to pick up this book and read it on my flight to Texas. I was stunned by what I read. For the words which have unfolded in my heart over the past three years are direct echo’s of messages Our Lady and Jesus gave Maria for the world. This has touched me deeply, since I sometimes struggle fiercely with the mission I have been given: it is a confirmation from someone who lived a holy and remarkable life and whose words, though they are not necessarily bullet proof, carry a weight which far exceeds anything I will ever say. I do not say this for my benefit, but yours. For Scripture commands us not to despise prophecy, but to discern it. Given the times which are unfolding rather dramatically now, I think it is important that many of you who are hearing a prophetic word in your heart are further confirmed in your spirit for what you have been sensing all along.
It is strange, for I knew little of this woman until now, though I’ve quoted her a couple of times. But something in my soul tells me that when the Spirit prayed "esperanza," that it may in fact have been "Esperanza"—an invocation of the intercession of one who may likely one day may be called St. Maria. One whose name means hope.
(Below, as I sift through Maria’s words, I have also linked certain phrases and titles to my writings so you can easily cross-reference them by simply clicking on them.)
Maria confirms that we are living in a time of grace, a "special time" which she also calls the "hour of decision." Through Maria, the Blessed Mother is calling us into a place of "prayer and contemplation," what I have called here "the Bastion." It is a preparation for a new evangelization of the world (Matt 24:14):
the Virgin has come… to unite a small group of souls called for a great future mission, which is already beginning. That is the evangelization of the world over again. —The Bridge to Heaven: Interviews with Maria Esperanza of Betania, Michael H. Brown, p. 107I have written about a time which I felt the Holy Spirit calling "the Exorcism of the Dragon" when Satan’s power is going to be broken in many lives.
The heavenly hurricane will come to help the weak ones, a battalion led by St. Michael the Archangel, who will defend you because he will announce the decisive time, and he will be open to listen to the drums, flutes, and bells, able to stand quickly to fight with the prayer of the Magnificat. —The Bridge to Heaven: Interviews with Maria Esperanza of Betania, Michael H. Brown, p.53What a beautiful confirmation! When the Seven Year Trial series was completed, I sensed our Lord saying that we would be singing the Magnificat of the Woman—a song of praise and battle. And of course, Maria says what the Church has been saying for centuries: that Mary is our refuge:
Something is coming, the hour of terrible things during which confused humanity will not find refuge in the human earthly heart. The only refuge will be Mary. —The Bridge to Heaven: Interviews with Maria Esperanza of Betania, Michael H. Brown, p. 53I have already quoted in my writings Maria’s reference to an illumination of conscience which is going to be a great gift from Heaven for the world—a Day of Mercy in which many souls will be given the grace to repent. Although Maria refused to answer whether or not she knew if Antichrist was alive on earth (wisely so, perhaps), the Virgin did say that we are living in "apocalyptic times":
Our Father’s intention is to save all His children from the mocking and ridicule of the pharisees of these apocalyptic times. —The Bridge to Heaven: Interviews with Maria Esperanza of Betania, Michael H. Brown, p. 43Before the Blessed Sacrament, in what was a kind of inner vision a few years ago, I sensed the Lord saying that there was coming "parallel communities" which may solidify through the Illumination. Maria also speaks of these Christian communities:
I think that in a very little while we’re going to be living in social communities, religious communities.—The Bridge to Heaven: Interviews with Maria Esperanza of Betania, Michael H. Brown, p. 42And Maria also speaks often of what is called an "era of peace" in which the world and the Church will be renewed in a glorious age. It will be preceded in a "coming" of our Lord. Here too, Maria does not speak of the final coming of Jesus in glory, but an intermediate coming of Christ, perhaps in apparitional form:
He is coming—not the end of the world, but the end of this century’s agony. This century is purifying, and after will come peace and love… The environment will be fresh and new, and we will be able to feel happy in our world and in the place where we live, without fights, without this feeling of tension in which all of us live… —The Bridge to Heaven: Interviews with Maria Esperanza of Betania, Michael H. Brown, p. 73, 69Here too, Maria refers to this movement of the Holy Spirit, which culminates in an Era of Peace, as a new dawning:
I try to prepare myself so that the Grace of the Holy Spirit can open the horizon of a new dawn of Jesus. —The Bridge to Heaven: Interviews with Maria Esperanza of Betania, Michael H. Brown, p. 71Indeed, when I searched my heart for the title of the book I am writing, the words came quickly: "Hope is Dawning." I received those very words in my heart several months ago in a what seemed a message from our Mother. Yes, when everything seems so dark and distressful, we must turn to the horizon and fix our eyes upon the rising of the Sun of Justice. Although the world is now entering perhaps its darkest moment, it is also going to be a glorious and powerful time in the Church, the Bride who will emerge purified, strengthened, and triumphant:
We are going through glorious times. It will make everything better. Many signs are being disclosed. We should be only joyful. Everything is in God’s control. —The Bridge to Heaven: Interviews with Maria Esperanza of Betania, Michael H. Brown, p. 107Yes, yes… esperanza is dawning!
THE BIRTH CANAL
Fr. Kyle Dave of Louisiana has often said, "Things are going to get worse before they get better." This is not a cause for panic for the Christian, but of heightened awareness that the Day "does not catch you like a thief in the night." Indeed, Maria also confirms in her writings the sense of an imminent war (which could possibly be averted through repentance and prayer), a possible schism, tribulations, plague, perhaps summarized in the words "great calamity." But these things are always set in the context of God’s mercy and love to in order to regenerate this world through purification and pave the way for Christ’s reign of peace. Think, my brothers and sisters, of the prodigal son. It was through the calamity of poverty and then famine that he finally returned to his father. This time of mercy has been permitted by heaven for us to return to Him without having to greatly chastise us. That is why He generously poured out the Holy Spirit through the Charismatic Renewal. That is why He raised up for us humble, holy, and wise popes for our times. This is why He has sent us His Mother. For I believe that the Day of the Lord has been imminent, but the degree of chastisement has always been dependent upon our repentance. And therefore, God will discipline us because we are his sons and daughters, and God disciplines those whom He loves.
Oh, how pleasing to God is the soul that follows faithfully the inspirations of His grace! I gave the Savior to the world; as for you, you have to speak to the world about His great mercy and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Him who will come, not as a merciful Savior, but as a just Judge. Oh, how terrible is that day! Determined is the day of justice, the day of divine wrath. The angels tremble before it. Speak to souls about this great mercy while it is still the time for [granting] mercy. If you keep silent now, you will be answering for a great number of souls on that terrible day. Fear nothing. Be faithful to the end. I sympathize with you. —Mary speaking to St. Faustina, Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, n. 635The reason I have introduced Maria Esperanza to my readers in this manner (or perhaps she is introducing me to you!) is that she has also said some things which indicate the immediate times we are living in. In my next writing, I am going to explain this. The time we have now entered is very serious and demands our full attention to Mary. The image I had in my heart yesterday was of a football team. Jesus is the head coach, and Mary is our quarterback. She receives the next "play" from Christ, and then comes to the huddle to relay it to us. The offense does not turn around and face the coach—no, they wait for the quarterback and then listen intently to what she has to say—what the Coach has told her. But Christ is our "Head" coach. He is God. He is our Savior, and Mary is His chosen instrument to direct and guide us. How wonderful that she is also our Mother!
This is why we must pray the Rosary. Why we must sit before the Blessed Sacrament. This is why we should gather in the "upper room", the Bastion, the divine huddle. Our Mother is preparing us as the heel, the offspring which will crush the head of Satan. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! Stir into flame the gift which Christ has conferred on you through your Baptism and Confirmation! Pray, pray, pray!
Your lives must be like Mine: quiet and hidden, in unceasing union with God, pleading for humanity and preparing the world for the second coming of God. —Mary speaking to St. Faustina, Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, n. 625Listen attentively, my brothers and sisters, for change is now going to come very rapidly, and you must be listening carefully to Heaven. Listen like a child. Empty, surrendered, trusting, waiting, at peace. For you are going to be used as God’s instrument, to be the presence of Christ in this world in its greatest hour of evangelization (Matt 24:14). And we are not alone. I feel deep in my heart that God is sending us souls such as St. Pio and Maria Esperanza and many, many saints to pray for, help, and intercede for us at this time. We are not alone. We are one body. A triumphant Body.
Hope is dawning.
The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of our goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it… I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence. —St. John Chrysostom, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol IV, p. 1377
P.S. As a kind of "wink" to this writing…. after it was written, a woman walked up to me yesterday and handed me her business card. The name of her company is "Esperanza-Hope Entertainment." Then, a few weeks later, a friend of the Esperanza’s sent me a strand of Maria’s golden hair—a beautiful gift..